This is an expanded point I was originally going to include within Raw Afterthoughts, but given the amount of time I plan to spend on this subject wasn't appropriate for the "Afterthoughts" format.
One of the things that "Internet savvy" fans of professional wrestling tend to cling to is match quality. There is absolutely NO problem with that from me, as I enjoy a well-worked match as much as the next person. If match quality alone is your thing, you really enjoyed last night's edition of Monday Night Raw.
Here's my big problem with last night's show. I could have told you every single winner of last night's matches before they ever started. If you are honest with yourself, could you tell me that you thought:
- that Cody Rhodes was going to defeat Randy Orton;
- that Kofi Kingston was going to win in his Champion vs. Champion match against Dolph Ziggler;
- that Antonio Cesaro would defeat Alberto Del Rio, who is on his way to a title match at Extreme Rules.
All three of these matches were very well worked. The six competitors worked hard and the matches they put on could easily main event any television show. They could have even appeared on pay per view based on the quality standpoint. The problem is they all felt predictable to me.
I think WWE could raise a bit more excitement in their product if they would get away from this feeling that the match results are never in doubt. To borrow a parallel from MMA, even the inferior fighter always has a puncher's chance against a superior fighter. WWE can create that same feeling in their own product if they book it properly.
I could live with this situation in WrestleMania season. You know that the top guys (Cena, Del Rio, Orton, etc.) are all going to get their wins over mid-card talents heading into marquee matches. Now, in the post-Mania lull, it's time for WWE to shake things up a little bit. Believe it or not, the three-hour format has exacerbated this problem.
WWE has guys that can fill allotted time with solid ring work. Just look at the three matches I highlighted at the top of the article. I see two problems that need to be addressed:
- First, they need to add in some legitimate drama behind these matches. Rather than throwing two guys in the ring and having them fill the time, put some story behind it and some emotion behind it. Book an "upset" by a mid-card guy to give the mid-card some progression. Put a title shot on the line. Give the match some reason beyond quality ring work.
- Second, the announce team has got to stop clowning around during these matches and treat things with a more serious tone. As good as I think JBL makes the announce product, he is guilty of throwing in some unnecessary humor that ends up taking the whole team off of the action in the ring. It also takes the emphasis off of the competition and makes it all feel like filler.
Remember the Attitude Era? While many tend to forget that there were many bad booking decisions and bad ring work that went on, the one thing that the product had was excitement and a bit of unpredictability. While I'm not pining for a recreation of the Attitude Era, WWE needs to get back to capturing a level of "edge of your seat" excitement into Raw again. This way fans and viewers don't walk away from the product simply feeling "sort of" satisfied because they saw quality, but predictable, in-ring work.